2017-03-03, modified 2017-03-14
On-line petition: Stop the speech restrictive “anti-blasphemy” Motion M-103!.
You have of course heard of motion M-103, presented to the Canadian parliament by MP Iqra Khalid. The motion is entitled “Systemic racism and religious discrimination”, alleges the existence of an “increasing public climate of hate and fear” and has, as one of its main goals, to “condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
Does this motion constitute a threat to freedom of expression? The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) tries to reassure us. In its declaration of 2017-02-17, the CCLA reminds us: “Not only does M-103 not restrict or censor speech, it is also not a bill and is not law. It is of no legal force or effect. It is a motion that has been introduced and has not passed.” According to the CCLA, to speak of threats to freedom is “hyperbole and exaggeration.”
However the CCLA shows itself to be grossly naïve and short-sighted. What is missing from its analysis is the simple expression “not yet.” Granted, motion M-103 does not ban blasphemy. In the short term, freedom of expression is not explicitly threatened. Yet the motion is obviously part of a long-term strategy whose goal is to stigmatize and then muzzle all criticism of Islam and its political variant Islamism. This strategy can be seen clearly both in the context in which the motion is presented and in the language which it employs.
Although first submitted in December of 2016, the motion began to accumulate seconders and to be debated in the aftermath of the horrible anti-Muslim killing which occured at a Quebec City mosque on January 29th. Capitalizing cynically on the huge wave of sympathy for those so cruelly affected by that crime, some very dubious political elements — some falsely claiming to represent all Muslims — cranked up the volume on their already existing campaigns, denouncing so-called “Islamophobia” and inventing a new fictional scourge which they call “systemic racism.” These political forces are ferociously antisecular and have adopted the habit of slandering secularists by intimating that secularists are somehow complicit in that horrible killing, as if the mere fact of opposing religious interference in the affairs of state constituted an incitement to murder.
The motion’s choice of words is very revealing. First of all, use of the word “Islamophobia” is completely inappropriate in this context. If there is a problem of discrimination or hatred against Muslims, then we must call it what it is: anti-Muslim prejudice, a prejudice against real persons and not against a religion, such as Islam. The problems raised by use of the extremely dubious term “Islamophobia” are well known and have been spelled out by numerous writers and commentators. To ignore those problems is to be wantonly oblivious. Both the title and the text of motion M-103 blithely conflate racism with religious discrimination, as if the two were synonyms, when in fact they are completely different. Moreover, it is always important to distinguish ideas (for example a religion, such as Islam) from human beings (such as Muslims). Motion M-103 deliberately and unacceptably confuses religion with race. Furthermore, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms already protects against discrimination on the basis of religion.
In the estimation of Charb, the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist assassinated, along with his colleagues, by Islamist terrorists on the 7th of January 2015, the lowlifes who promote confusion using the term “Islamophobia” are in reality fomenting racism. According to Mathieu Bock-Côté, Islamophobia is not a well-defined concept, but instead a form of blackmail, a weapon of ideological war whose purpose is to silence those who approach Islam with scepticism rather than enthusiasm. For Ali A. Rizvi (The Phobia of Being Called Islamophobic), the term’s only purpose is to protect Islam from any criticism. “It’s as if every time you said smoking was a filthy habit, you were perceived to be calling all smokers filthy people.”
In the words of Christian Rioux, the crime of “Islamophobia” is used primarily to condemn anyone who, from within Islam, tries to reform that religion. Rioux reports that Salman Rushdie considers that the word was invented to allow the blind to remain blind. Let us not forget that Rushdie himself was accused of Islamophobia for his novel The Satanic Verses and, consequently, was persecuted for decades under a death fatwa. According to the French philosopher, essayist and novelist Pascal Bruckner, Islamophobia is an imaginary racism.
According to Fatima Houda-Pepin, the purpose of the term “Islamophobia” is to stifle any internal reform in Islam and to prevent any attempt to examine the role of radical Islamist movements operating in western countries, so that these Islamists may promote their political program with complete impunity.
In my estimation, the term “Islamophobia” is the sum which results when one adds the Christian obsession with sin to the Islamist concept of blasphemy against Allah, that totalitarian god. The recipe is then completed by adding a sprinkling of unhealthy Christian naïveté.
Motion M-103 is part of the same strategy as the various resolutions against “defamation of religion” which have been presented to the United Nations by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. It is also part of the same movement as the legal jihadism of Zunera Ishaq who, in a case before Federal Court, won the legal “right” to wear her niqab at her citizenship ceremony. All three are examples of Islamofascist initiatives (i.e. actions of political, radical and fundamentalist Islam) with the purpose of propagating the obscurantist and anti-freedom values of political Islam wherever an opening can be found.
The fact that motion M-103 was presented by Iqra Khalid is unsurprising. Ms. Khalid is known for her affinity for organizations such as ISNA (Islamic Society of North America). She joined the Liberal Party of Canada only months before her nomination as candidate for the seat she holds since the election of 2015.
Canada has an old anti-blasphemy law, article 296 of the Criminal Code. It has not been applied for decades and may indeed by repealed in the near future. However, if motion M-103 is adopted, and if Islamists and their dupes continue their efforts in the same direction, we can expect to see a new law which will recriminalize blasphemy. And that new law will be much worse, much more dangerous than article 296 because it will apply to one religion in particular, Islam, to the detriment of all others, thus creating inequalities which will inevitably lead to interreligious resentments and conflicts. Furthermore, while article 296 has fallen into disuse, zealous enforcement of the new law, the new crime of blasphemy, of lèse-majesté, of offending Allah, will be ensured by an army of Islamist fanatics and their multiculturalist allies and dupes.
In a recent interview, Bruckner denounces motion M-103:
“that one religion should be exempt from reasoned analysis, that it thus be exempt from scrutiny as if it were off-limits, beyond human consideration, is an unprecedented event in history. It is also a terrible confession: the enforcers of the sin of Islamophobia want to make Islam an untouchable religion, superior to all other. […] This is a truly astounding step backwards.” (Translation D.R.)
Furthermore, the motion treats Muslims like children:
“[…] very bad news for Muslims, who will be the primary victims of this motion if it is adopted. This measure treats Muslims as having no responsibility, thus putting Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and atheists at a disadvantage, and will inevitably lead to an outpouring of anger and hatred. Those who believe in the quran are placed in a special pious category because they are considered basically incapable of reforming themselves and unaccountable for their actions. The Muslim is thus elevated to the double status of both taboo and totem. He or she belongs to a fetishized religion, kept under glass, as if in a museum, with a sign ‘Do Not Touch.’ So far we are dealing with a simple motion, but the mere fact that such an idea could take root in the mind of that Liberal MP, of Pakistani origin, and the fact that she was not unanimously condemned for it, says a lot about Canadian society. […]” (Translation D.R.)
Furthermore, if the situation were not so serious, it would be hilarious to read a motion which dares to denounce simultaneously both “Islamophobia” and hatred. After all, the main scripture of Islam, the quran, is riddled with numerous virulently hateful declarations against non-believers, against Jews and against women. Such hypocrisy!
What we have therefore, in the medium or long term, is a very serious threat to freedom of expression in Canada. There should be a groundswell of opposition to this measure. In particular, every organization which claims to be secular must denounce motion M-103. Any Member of Parliament, regardless of political party, who supports this motion becomes, but virtue of that support, an objective ally of political Islam, an international movement on the extreme-right fringe of the extreme-right. Our political leaders must immediately abandon this atrocious motion and, instead, direct their energies towards repealing the religious exception 319(3)b in the hate propaganda law, because that exception grants impunity to religion.